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Fears rise as Desert Locusts drift towards Uganda

Severe Desert Locust outbreak threatens rural food security across East Africa 

Nairobi, Kenya | THE INDEPENDENT |  A serious and widespread Desert Locust outbreak is destroying crops and pasture across eastern Ethiopia and neighbouring areas of Somalia, parts of Sudan, Eritrea and northern Kenya with a high risk of further spread in the absence of immediate and significant scale up in control activities.

Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG) has warned that there is a risk that some swarms could appear in northeast Uganda, southeast South Sudan and southwest Ethiopia soon.

According to FAO, this is the worst situation in 25 years and unusual weather and climate conditions have contributed to it, including heavy and widespread rains since October 2019.

The Food Security and Nutrition Working Group released a statement Wednesday, warning that a further increase in locust swarms is likely to continue until about June due to the continuation of favourable ecological conditions for Locust breeding.

“There has been a significant and extremely dangerous increase in swarm activity during the past week in Kenya where numerous, large immature swarms are spreading from the initial invasion areas of the northeast (Mandera county) south to Wajir and Garissa, west along the Ethiopian border (Moyale and Marsabit counties) and southwest into central areas north of Mt Kenya (Isiolo, Samburu, Meru and most recently Laikipia counties),” FSNWG said in its statement.

According to FSNWG , one immature swarm was 60 km long by 40 km wide in the northeast. More swarms are expected to occur in these areas, some of which are already moving north of Mt. Kenya westwards to the Rift Valley (Baringo county) where they could continue northwest to Turkana county, while others will move west along the Ethiopian border, and some swarms could move further south to Tana River county.

“IGAD calls on its Member States, the East African Community and partners to pull resources together to prevent, control and possibly eradicate the Desert Locust threat to the food security of the region,” said Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, IGAD’s Executive Secretary.

“Prevention and control measures must be scaled up to contain further spread of the Desert Locust. Countries must act urgently to avoid a food security crisis in the region.”

Dr David Phiri, FAO Sub regional Coordinator for the Eastern and Representative of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa warned, ‘the locust is making the bad food security situation worse in the sub-region, exacerbating the existing dire food insecurity and malnutrition in the sub-region.

He added that the weather seems favourable for the locust breeding with high probability that the locust will continue to breed until March-April 2020, if no longer’.

The Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG) is a regional platform, currently co-chaired by ICPAC and FAO.

It’s goal is providing an up-to-date food security and nutrition situation analysis (early warning) and offering a forum to build consensus on critical issues facing policy and interventions.

The FNSWG has served regional governments, donors, and non-governmental agencies since the early 2000’s. Current membership includes approximately 80 organizations (IGAD, UN agencies, NGOs, donors and research institutions) who contribute to the operation and content of the working group and its nutrition, markets, food security information, livestock and pastoralist subgroups.

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SOURCE: Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG) 

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